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How divorce affects children in different age groups

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2022 | Divorce |

No matter how amicable divorce is, it impacts every member of a family. Children of various ages feel the effects differently.

Here is some information on the psychological consequences of divorce on kids.


Oftentimes, toddlers fail to comprehend what is going on when their parents separate. They likely do not understand why they need to shuffle back and forth between homes. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 years old will probably cry and seek more attention than previously. Further, they may regress in some areas such as toilet training and uninterrupted sleeping.


Like toddlers, children between 3 and 5 years old usually struggle to understand why they must now have two separate homes. They may suffer from fears of abandonment and have difficulty adjusting from staying with one parent to the other. This can present with kids hiding in their bedrooms, refusing to leave one home or clinging to a guardian’s leg at the time for the hand-off.

Elementary school and older

Kids in elementary school and older may blame themselves for what they view as the dissolution of their family and wonder if their own behavior caused it. Teenagers frequently act out when parents split. This can include behaviors such as skipping school, consuming alcohol and drugs and resenting one or both guardians.

Though every situation and child is unique, parents should expect some or all of the behaviors noted above as they go through a divorce. If separation is inevitable for a family, the adults can do their best to co-parent positively and present a united front to the youngsters.